You can blame it all on director Judd Apatow. Over the last few years, he’s developed a template for light movie comedy that hits the spot with the demographic most beloved by Hollywood, reaching a peak with “Knocked Up” in 2007.
The latest entry in this genre, which we will explore shortly, is “I Love You, Man,” directed by John Hamburg and playing everywhere in the area (except, of course, Staunton).
It’s a “Knocked Up” knock-off starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segal, last seen together in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” last year, with Rashida Jones as the resident confident chick. Sturdy character actors Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons and Jane Curtin prop things up in supporting roles, and striking Jaime Pressly has one great gal-pal scene.
Frankly, this is nice guy Paul Rudd’s best role to date. He plays a groom-to-be who has always related well to women, but has no real close male friends, thusly no potential Best Man for the forthcoming nuptials with Ms. Jones. The film is all about his attempt to become One of the Guys, develop a buddy, and come up with someone to stand up with him at the wedding.
His fumbling attempts at male-bonding rituals are heartfelt, and by the time Jason Segal comes into the movie, abut half an hour into it, you’re pulling for the good guys. That’s the premise of the film, and along the way there’s plenty of time to indulge this world of young guys that Hollywood finds so fascinating (at the box office, anyway).
I enjoyed the movie, despite all the bad things I’m going to say about this TYPE of movie. It has heart and closure and delivers a warmth that is quite satisfying. It’s a good film to see if you can tolerate the Judd Apatow Syndrome: This type of movie is filled with party animals, slackers, plain-looking guys and gorgeous women, and the kind of sexual banter that would send most people’s grandma scurrying out of the room. Light-hearted discussions of oral sex and masturbation will probably make you wonder, “Is this what guys really talk about?”
Plus, you must enjoy (or at least be prepared for) the holy trinity of guy comedy: belching, flatulence and projectile vomiting. A guycom just ain’t a guycom without all three. “I Love You, Man” could have done without any of them – it was strong enough to stand on its own – but they were all thrown in just to be safe, I assume, and to firmly establish the Testosterone Count of the film in case any guys in the audience became a smidge nervous about the developing “bromance” between Paul and Jason.
Jason Segal is actually quite charming as the slacker buddy, and (thankfully) is not called upon for full-frontal nudity, as he was in the forgettable “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” He’s due next in a new adaptation of “Gulliver’s Travels,” coming our way in 2010, while Paul Rudd will pop up again in three short months co-starring with Jack Black in a prehistoric comedy from Harold Ramis called “The Year One.”
Rashida Jones, who you may remember from TV’s “The Office,” has an off-beat beauty, exotic yet accessible, that’s quite endearing, and of course J.K. Simmons has nailed down his recurring role as Hollywood’s Hippest Dad ever since “Juno.”
So, unless you are put off by the scatological content of current Apatowian guycoms, you’ll probably enjoy “I Love You, Man.” Its heart is actually in the right place – anatomically, a little higher than one would surmise.
– Column by Carl Larsen